Last Updated: 12/28/2023

In the early 1900s, over 100 people a year died as a result of rabies infection, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the 1990s, that number shrunk to one or two rabies deaths per year.

Ensuring pet owners vaccinate their animals helps save human lives by preventing human rabies infection after a dog bite. This is why the law is so stringent about the rabies vaccine for dogs. Pet owners will need to be fully aware of the legal requirements for rabies vaccinations and then strictly abide by them. Failing to follow the rabies vaccination law is a simple misdemeanor offense in Iowa.

Iowa Rabies Vaccination Law

Iowa Annotated Statute § 351.33 requires dog owners to vaccinate their dogs.  The statute provides: “It shall be unlawful for any person to own or have a dog in the person's possession, six months of age or over, which has not been vaccinated against rabies.”

If your dog is running at large and has not been vaccinated, the local board of health or law enforcement official can impound the dog. The owner of impounded dogs will have one week to pick up the dog and produce evidence of vaccination or have it immediately vaccinated. If they fail to do so, the dog will be euthanized.

Exemptions from the Rabies Vaccine for Dogs

Iowa statutes allow for several exemptions to the rabies vaccination laws. Examples of exceptions to the law requiring the rabies vaccination for dogs are listed below.

  • the dog is under six months of age.
  • the dog is kept in a kennel and not allowed to run at large.
  • the dog is under the control of the owner and in transit and is to be in Iowa for less than 30 days.
  • the dog is to be exhibited and is in the state for less than 30 days.
  • or, the dog is assigned to a research facility.

While these dogs may be legally exempt, it is still good practice to ensure all dogs are current on their rabies vaccine for dogs. If an unvaccinated dog has a run-in with a wild, rabid animal, the dog may become infected.

Administering the Rabies Vaccination for Dogs

Iowa statutes require that only licensed veterinarians are able to give rabies vaccinations, and the vaccine must be approved by the state department of agriculture and land stewardship. After the dog has been vaccinated, the vet will issue a certification of vaccination, which the owner must keep handy in case the authorities ever ask for proof of vaccination.

The vet will also issue a rabies tag that must be attached to the dog’s collar at all times. The rabies vaccine for dogs is relatively cheap and readily available at any vet’s office or animal hospital.

Talk to an Attorney if You’re the Victim of a Dog Bite in Iowa

If you have questions about dog bite liability, or if you or a loved one were recently attacked by a dog in Iowa – vaccinated or unvaccinated – call Walker, Billingsley & Bair to discuss your legal options. Call us today at (888) 435-9886 to set up your free legal consultation or you can Chat Here Now.

Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.